Office 2004 for Macintosh: The Missing Manual
by Paul Berkowitz
Information provided by the O'Reilly Network Safari(R) Bookshelf
Far be it from most software companies, especially Microsoft, to include a book with their product. Microsoft Office has mass and horsepower enough to move mountains but the user is unlikely to take advantage of most of it without some sort of guidance. When I did a review of the Office 2001 Missing Manual, I used that book as a tutorial and guide to a new program. Moving from Office X to Office 2004 was an easy transition but there were enough changes and additions to make the book for 2004 very useful.
About one half of the book is devoted to Word. While most of us have basic word processing skills, the Missing Manual is like having the Betty Crocker Cookbook on the shelf. If you can't remember the correct proportions of flour and butter to make a white sauce, you check a basic reference source. If you can't remember how to do a mail merge or track changes, check the Missing Manual.
Microsoft introduced its new project management and notebook features in Office 2004. Using the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage components of the Office suite to integrate charts, graphics and text allows an individual or small businesses to create powerful presentations. The Project Center is designed to keep the process organized and provides a timeline to keep it on track. While the authors feel the Notebook feature is an improvement, they feel, "...it lacks the ease of use and advanced features of a full-fledged note-taking tool, like Circus Ponies' NoteBook...but hey, it's a step in the right direction." (Circus Ponies demonstrated their software at an NCMUG meeting last fall.)
Entourage is covered well in the manual since it handles so many tasks. Besides being an email program, it is a "little black book" to keep track of all the things that would be in an address book; it's a calendar and a place to keep track of notes; it's a to do list; and it also works with the Project Center. The pages on Email Netiquette and Mailing List Etiquette sound a lot like our list mom-don't use HTML formatting, don't send attachments, keep your signature short, stay on topic, trim quotes and keep private conversations off lists.
Advanced Entourage details Palm Synchronization for calendars, addresses, notes and to do lists. Entourage still will not work with AOL. Excel is the engine that chugs. It's not glamorous, but what spreadsheet is? It has become more "Word" like with a page layout view and updated chart features. The Excel chapters cover the basics as well as new charting techniques and working with data, including how to import from FileMaker Pro.
PowerPoint gets the least amount of attention. While there are plenty of short cuts to be found by using the Project Gallery, the authors provide tips on how to create new presentations, change design in midstream, set up an outline and build a show to make unique presentation and get the attention of an audience.
The Missing Manual followed the release of Office 2004 by nearly a year. Taking their time, Walker and Tessler succeeded in authoring a book that covers the basic and advanced features of several complex programs. It is very readable, and like the other missing manuals is an important addition to the computer user's library.
Review by NCMUG member Joan O'Brien